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How to Get Your Best DIY Pedicure

Are you more of a cherry red or a millennial pink? A pool blue or a neon peach? (With the rainbow nails trend perfectly on point for Pride month, do you even need to choose?)

There’s something so uplifting about a pop of color on your toes. And with warm weather approaching, it’s another way to show your style — not to mention how nice it feels to block out time for pampering your skin and nails.

Feel totally polished with this DIY pedicure you can do at home, and earn cash back to support nonprofits when you shop with Giving Assistant.

What You’ll Need for a DIY Pedi

  • Bathtub, foot spa, or shallow bowl
  • Foot exfoliator tool
  • Warm water
  • Lotion
  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton round
  • Base coat
  • Top coat (optional)
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Nail clippers or nail scissors
  • Nail file
  • Toe spacers

Tips for a DIY Pedi

  • Because you’ll be using products with fumes, pick somewhere with good ventilation to do your pedicure. If possible, open a window and turn on a fan.
  • Nail polish starting to separate? Don’t shake the bottle, as this can cause bubbles. Instead, roll it between your hands until the formula blends together again.

7 Easy Steps to Your Best DIY Pedicure

Step 1: Remove Any Nail Polish

Removing nail polish
Photo: mylargebox.com

First remove any existing polish from your toes with nail polish remover. Soak a bit of remover on a cotton round and gently sweep across your nails until every trace of polish is gone. It can be annoying when you’re eager to get on with your nail routine, but we do this step so the new polish has a nice, even canvas to stick to.

If you want to skip this step completely next time, there’s actually a peel-off base coat that lets you peel off your nail polish when you’re ready for a new look! This is also a great way to reduce the waste from cotton rounds.

Step 2: Soak Feet

Soak feet in water
Photo: starbene.it

Fill your tub, foot spa, or bowl with warm water. Just like at the nail salon, choose the temperature based on whatever you can comfortably tolerate. Place your feet in the water and soak for about 10 minutes. (That’s three songs…or 40 TikToks!) This not only relaxes you, but it also softens your skin and nails to get them ready for Steps 3–5. 

If you’d like, you can even add a foot soak or bath bomb to make it feel like a real spa!

Step 3: Exfoliate

Exfoliate feet
Photo: Aleksandra Kovac/Shutterstock

Next, exfoliate your feet with a tool like a foot file or pumice stone. We like this pumice stone from Urban Outfitters because it doesn’t have any plastic parts like a typical foot paddle. With a slightly wetted pumice, gently buff the skin on your feet in a circular motion. Work in circles for about 2–3 minutes. Then dip your foot in the water again to rinse off, revealing the soft skin underneath!

Step 4: Treat Cuticles

Treat cuticles using pusher
Photo: feetforemost.com

Now that  your cuticles have had time to soften up in the bath, push your them back using a cuticle pusher. Many people do this on their hands but not their feet, but others prefer how they look and feel all lined up. Just be sure to never clip, cut or scrape your cuticles!

Step 5: Trim & File Nails

Trim nail using nail clipper

Once you’ve patted your feet dry, use a nail clipper or nail scissor to trim your toenails, then use a nail file to smooth out the sharp edge. The emery board should be mostly making contact with the underside of your nails, not the top. 

Step 6: Moisturize

Moisturize you feet
Photo: nearsay.com

Next you’re going to moisturize your feet to lock in the work from the exfoliation. Apply lotion to your feet, and really treat this step like a massage. Choose a fragrance that calms you and helps put you in a good mood. Lavender is known to be a soothing scent, but you might prefer vanilla, musk, or even a juicy mandarin fragrance!

If any product gets on your nails, go over them one more time with the nail polish remover to ensure even polish application.

Step 7: Apply Nail Polish

Apply nail polish
Photo: clevelandclinic.org

Put in toe separators (these tulip-shaped ones from Kooding are as pretty as a pedi) so you can work with a steady hand. It’s time for polish!

Apply a base coat and let dry. Then apply one coat of nail polish and let dry. Apply a second or third coat, depending on the opacity of your polish. Wait about 10–15 minutes. Listening to a podcast or audiobook can make the time go faster.

If you like to do a topcoat, this is when you’d apply it. But you can really get away without it, since pedicures seem to last forever. And remember that it’s okay if you don’t do a perfect application! Any color that bleeds will come off with some time in the shower, since nails hold onto polish a lot better than skin.

Enjoy your brand new pedicure!

Feel Good, Look Good & Shop for Good

When you shop with Giving Assistant, you earn cash back to keep or share with a nonprofit of your choice. That means any products you buy for your at-home self care routine can put dollars and cents towards causes you care about. And these small donations add up to make a big difference for nonprofits. 

Please note, cash back donations are for Giving Assistant members who have a nonprofit selected in their account. Shoppers must be logged into their account or using the Giving Assistant extension to automate cash back and donations. Cash back donations can vary depending on user settings.